“Accessibility”: a general term for the degree of ease that something (e.g. a device, a service, a physical environment, information) can be accessed, used and enjoyed by persons with varying abilities and disabilities. The term implies conscious planning, design, and/or effort to ensure that no barriers are created for persons with disabilities.
“Barrier”: anything that prevents a person from fully taking part in any aspects of society. Barriers can be physical, architectural, attitudinal, economic, and technological. Barriers can be created by, as well as policies and practices.
- any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,
- a condition of cognitive impairment or a developmental disability,
- a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,
- a psychiatric disorder, or
- an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act 1997.
"University website”: any public-facing website that is officially associated with Queen’s University. This includes all public-facing websites hosted under the queensu.ca domain. This also includes public-facing websites under other domains that are owned/operated by a Queen’s University entity.
“AODA”: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005)
“W3C”: refers to the World Wide Web Consortium, an international community of member organizations, staff, and the public individuals to develop standards for the web.
“WCAG”: refers to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines developed through the W3C process in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world. The goal of the WCAG is to provide an international standard for web content accessibility.
Purpose/Reason for the Policy:
Queen’s University is committed to making its digital media accessible to the broadest possible audience, including students, prospective students, employees, alumni, guests and visitors of all abilities. Particular care must be taken to ensure that barriers to online information are not created in consideration of persons with disabilities and including those who require the use of assistive technology to access information.
As part of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and as a large public sector organization, Queen’s University is subject to compliance requirements related to the delivery of information and communications that fall under Section 14 (Accessible websites and web content) of the Integrated Accessibility Standards (Ontario Regulation 191/11).
Scope of this Policy:
Queen’s is committed to building an inclusive community with accessible spaces and services. Making our websites accessible is a key part of ensuring everyone has access to university services and education. This policy establishes requirements for staff, faculty and suppliers to procure, develop and modify university websites and web content so that they are accessible and meet accessibility compliance as required under the AODA.
The university’s public presence online must be accessible. This policy establishes minimum standards for the accessibility of public-facing web-based information, communications and services considered necessary to meet the university’s goals of creating and sustaining a culture of inclusivity and ensuring compliance with applicable laws.
To meet the requirements of this policy, university websites should be, at minimum in compliance with the current Information and Communications Standards established by the government of the province of Ontario, specifically Section 14 of the AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards (Ontario Regulation 191/11), which states that:
Designated public sector organizations and large organizations shall make their internet websites and web content conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, initially at Level A and increasing to Level AA, and shall do so in accordance with the schedule set out in this section. O. Reg. 191/11, s. 14 (2).
A variety of evaluation methods should be used to test the accessibility of web content, including automated testing, user testing (including testing usability with the use of assistive technology), and expert evaluation.
Senior University Administrators
- Promote awareness and provide support for this policy
ITS, IT Departments, IT Units, and Suppliers
- Ensure that online platforms for public web content that are developed or procured as enterprise solutions comply with this policy.
- Ensure that university websites for which they are responsible comply with this policy.
Website content editors and creators
- Ensuring that content that is created for and posted to university websites complies with this policy.
Website developers and designers
- Ensure that web platforms are developed and designed according to the policy.
- Ensure that contracts with suppliers seeking to develop or provide university websites, web content, and third-party integrations are aware of the policy, and hold suppliers accountable to this policy.
- Tracks accessibility language in contracts.
Human Rights and Equity Office
- Provide advice to University community members what their responsibilities are under this policy.
|Responsible Officer||Vice-Principal, University Relations|
|Contact Officer||Manager, Digital User Experience|
|Date for Next Review||November, 2025|
|Related Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines||None|
|Policies Superseded by This Policy||None|